Betta Channoides (Snakehead Betta)

Betta Channoides, also known as snakehead fighting fish or snakehead betta, are native to the Kalimantan Timur, Borneo Island, Indonesia. The fish is used to living in shallow forest streams, where they hide in leaf litter. They make for a very good aquarium fish (if you manage to find one, that is).

Betta Channoides are not same as Betta Mahachaiensis and are generally less aggressive (although, they are still a little bit feisty!).

Want to learn more about this beautiful fish species?

Today, we’ll discuss everything about Betta Channoides’ natural habitat, eating habits, appearance, and tank requirements.

Snakehead betta overview
Length2 inches maximum
Incubation methodMouthbrooding
AppearanceBig mouths, reddish-orange in color

Betta Channoides: family, characteristics, and care

First let’s learn what makes Betta Channoides similar to other betta fish. Betta Channoides are a part of the B. Splendens family, which include six mouthbrooding betta species:

  1. Betta Imbellis
  2. Betta Mahachaiensis
  3. Betta Siamorientalis
  4. Betta Smaragdina
  5. Betta Splendens
  6. Betta Stiktos

Each of the above fish has common characteristics that make them similar—like the labyrinth organ which helps them breath—as well as unique characteristics that separate them from one another. Here’s how you can identify Betta Channoides and recognize them among other fish from the B. Splendens’ family.

Betta Channoides’ appearance

Small reddy brown fish.

Betta Channoides are a small species of fish. The males grow up to 2 inches maximum. Females don’t grow as big as the males.

However, these small fish have a very big mouth since they are part of the mouthbrooding species. This is where they get their nickname “snakehead betta”.

When it comes to its physical features, Betta Channoides have reddish orange fins with a white border around the fin. They look incredibly similar to Betta Albimarginata, but there’s an easy way to distinguish the two: just look at the color. Betta Albimarginata have a fully black darker dorsal fin compared to the red-orange color of Betta Channoides.

Water parameters

A fish-less aquarium filled with plants with blue lighting

Betta Channoides adjust well in low pH levels as their natural environment is fairly acidic, so ensure their tank water’s pH isn’t too high.

An appropriate pH level for your Betta Channoides fish is somewhere between 4.0 and 6.5. This differs drastically from the popular their Siamese fighting fish relative, who prefer higher pH levels of 6.8 to 7.5. Knowing this, you cannot keep a Betta Channoides in the same tank as a Siamese fighting fish—they both require different pH levels.

As for the ideal water temperature, the Betta Channoides needs water that is 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

They will fall sick in dirty tank waters, so don’t skip cleaning the aquarium at regular intervals. This will keep the ammonia and nitrate levels low, which is good for the fish’s overall health. You should aim to do full tank cleanings every 6-8 months and weekly water changes.


Betta fish—like the Betta Mahachaiensis or Siamese fishing fish—are very territorial and are not suitable for community tanks.

But Betta Channoides are more tolerable of tank mates and other fish species, and you can usually keep multiple B. Channoides together in one tank (assuming the tank is large enough).

However, male Channoides and female Channoides may fight if you keep them in a very small tank. Ensuring the tank is large enough is crucial.

Also, the fish may attack other species if it feels threatened, but unlike Betta Splendens (aka the Siamese fighting fish), Channoides don’t attack other fish as soon as they see them.

For two fish, your tank should be a minimum of 10 gallons. For three fish, choose a 15 gallon tank.

Food for Channoides

Betta Channoides are carnivorous fish, meaning you can include a variety of meat-based food in their diet. Channoides love to eat fish larvae, frozen foods, and live foods as well.

When you give them live or frozen and dried foods, try to add variety since feeding only one type won’t provide enough nutrition.

Try to get only high quality pellets while feeding dry foods because pellets with fillers aren’t the best for your betta fish’s health. Due to their large head shape, Channoides also eat small species fishes like crayfish.

Tank mates for Channoides

Small white and brown fish.

While choosing tank mates for your Betta Channoides, the first thing you have to ensure is getting a large fish tank. You must get an aquarium that holds at least 10 gallons of water because these bettas need enough space for free swimming and establishing their own territory.

Also, because Betta Channoides are a dominant fish, you have to keep less aggressive and docile species with it. Keeping two aggressive fish types together will induce constant fights leading to an environmentally destructive aquarium situation.

Brine shrimp are an excellent companion for snakehead betta. They usually keep to the bottom of the tank and stay out of the betta fish’s way. As a bonus, being bottom feeders, they tend to help keep the tank clean.

But your betta fish might get hungry and try to eat the brine shrimp. Make sure you are feeding your betta fish enough so they don’t try to eat their tank mates.

Another great tank mate is a corydora. Corydoras are calm and also like to remain at the bottom of the tank.

Lastly, Norman’s Lampeye Killi is another great tank mate. They’re very peaceful and won’t bother your betta.

Tank Requirements

Green plant in fish tank.
Java fern

You can keep a pair of Betta Channoides in a ten-gallon tank. If you want to keep more, the tank size needs to go up as well.

Apart from tank size, it’s a good idea to keep lots of plants within your tank.

Bettas are used to living in shady spots, and having a tank filled with plants replicates their natural environment. The plants also provide hiding places for the male and female bettas to keep them from fighting.

Some of the plant types you can use to recreate a natural feel are:

  • Java fern
  • Java moss
  • Anubias
  • Frogbit
  • Plant roots like driftwood roots

You can also keep small clay plant pots as well to ensure your betta fish feels safe and has plenty of places to hide.

Breeding Betta Channoides

Channoides are mouthbrooders where the brooding male keeps the eggs in their mouth. Unlike the Siamese fighting fish and other bettas, Channoides don’t make bubble nests as their natural environment doesn’t allow for it.

For breeding, you have to keep them in pairs and in a specialized tank. The tank size should hold 15 to 20 gallons of water with a water temperature between 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bettas Channoides lay small batches of eggs, approximately ten eggs at a time. The male cares for the eggs for about two weeks, and after that, they release the fully developed fry into the water.

Raising the betta fry

After the male is finished caring for the betta, they will release them. You should remove the female and the male betta from the tank to let the betta fry grow on their own. Make sure to feed the fry high protein foods, like dried baby brine shrimp or newly hatched brine shrimp, to help the fry grow.

Wrapping up

Snakehead bettas are used to living in acidic, shady, and shallow water. Replicating this environment in your tank helps ensure your snakehead betta remains healthy and happy!

As this particular type of betta fish is less aggressive, you can usually keep more than one in a tank along with docile tank makes. Just make sure your tank is large enough and there is enough hiding space for your betta.

Richard Parker

Richard is an avid aquarist and has been keeping betta fish and other freshwater fish since he was a young boy. Through Aquatic Buddy, he hopes to help others learn how to care for their betta fish so they thrive in their home environments.

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